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Bear Bile Chemical Could Help Keep Hearts In Rhythm

Posted Aug 02 2011 6:10pm

Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is manufactured as a drug to decrease production of cholesterol in the body and to dissolve gallstones. It is also present in many traditional Chinese medicines made from bear bile.

The new study suggests it could also potentially treat abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia, both in the fetus and in people who have suffered a heart attack. Laboratory tests suggested that UDCA acts on non-beating pathological heart cells called myofibroblasts, which interfere with how electrical signals travel across the heart.

UDCA is already used to treat a condition called obstetric cholestasis, which affects around one in 200 pregnant women in the UK and is linked to a higher risk of arrhythmia and sudden death in the fetus. UDCA lowers the levels of harmful bile acids which build up in the mother’s blood in the disease and can pass into the infant through the placenta.

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